I hate to break it to you but now you have got through the first interview, the real work has only just begun.
The mindset at second interview stage will make or break the opportunity for you. Now that you have your potential new employer interested in you it’s time to really sell yourself. While there are many live career opportunities, record numbers in fact for Recruiters of all levels and sectors, clients are still very cautious about final hiring decisions. It is the second interview stage where many Recruitment Consultants, Managers and even Directors go in with completely the wrong mind-set and either leave the interview feeling disappointed or completely blow it.
Let’s face it… most first interviews are an informal meet and greet between two sales people. The prospective employer wants to sell their company as well as themselves as a Manager and Mentor and the Recruiter has to sell their overall skills, experience and winning personality. If either party is any good at their job it should be a good meeting with both parties being left with a good impression. So a second interview is more often than not on the cards.
It’s easy for candidates to misread the call back for second interviews. This should not be read as an automatic offer scenario, far from it. To set the scene here imagine you are house hunting (most of us have done this at some point), we see a house we like, we fall in love with it a little bit and then we worry! The second viewing is all about looking for flaws, protecting your potential investment, trying on the house for size and it invariably involves other people for their very valuable 2nd opinion. IT DOESN’T MEAN YOU LIKE THE HOUSE ANY LESS! In fact it means you are serious.
Take this analogy to heart and you will understand that to really ace your second interview and secure a good offer you have to be prepared to go back and withstand some scrutiny. Equally this is also your opportunity to do the same. Don’t assume it’s going to be a cake walk and effectively a rubber stamp for your fantastic offer, the second interview is where clients will try to explore your weaknesses, ask challenging questions, examine the extent of your capabilities and assess your values – all the while comparing to their business and looking for matches and clashes. The best companies do this in a way that doesn’t feel like a total grilling – but be prepared this is what is happening whether it is delivered in a soft or hard style.
If you’re really switched on you will prepare …thoroughly. Not only do you want to withstand some testing and assessment of your suitability for the role you also want to get as much out of the meeting as possible to truly evaluate whether this company is for you, whether their values match your own and whether the medium and long term opportunities excite you.
Before you go back make sure you have put thought into how you can add immediate value to this new employer. What does success look like to you? What support or assistance would you need? Are you well -rehearsed in answering the strengths and weaknesses question? Do you know figures and major wins? Have you checked that the references that you will give if offered will provide you will an excellent reference? Apart from the preliminary first interview research in to the company (looked at their website), what else do you know about the company?
Clients will often introduce different stakeholders to the process and whilst as a natural born seller you might not have an obvious affinity with the HR director or FD, you had better make sure you win them over quickly as they will have a significant influence on the decision to offer or reject. In essence you need to make sure you have done some serious preparation, have anticipated different people being in the interview, possibly a third interview or an after-hours drink with the team (don’t be fooled; this is another interview so mirror the key decision maker and if any of the above stages are conducted over lunch, tempting as it might be, don’t order messy food or alcohol).
The best advice that we give our candidates is to treat every interview stage like a brand new client visit. If you're a good Recruiter that should not be too hard to nail, should it?